Some good friends of mine asked me for tips to live in Germany, so I decided to write a series on “Living in Germany”. Being a not so consumptive country like Germany, sharing economy and access economy are pretty well-practiced. Below are examples of arrangements/business/offers/deals to get what you need while saving money.
A wants to go from Berlin to Hamburg with his four seats car, instead of driving alone he can offer his three free seats to other people and share the gas money. People offer free seats online, like on blablablacar.de or mitfahrgelegenheit.de. The latest website is the pioneer in the business, but ever since they charge people for using their service and introduce a new paying system, many find it annoying and complicated. I was a faithful user my self back in the days, but when I had to commute from one city to another, I switched to the newcomer and it worked out just fine. The travel expenses with train is rather high in Germany and busses only operated in the cities and between villages until they changed the regulation in 2013, that’s why Mitfahrgelegenheit (nickname: MfG) is highly opted for travelling with budget since forever. This kind of carpooling “business” has even existed long before Uber or Lyft came to life. FYI, those two companies are prohibited in Germany because they offer in-city drive which likely causes economic instability for taxi drivers and would affect other sections too.
Traveling either between two cities or countries with this carpool arrangement is actually convenient and fun, you could meet nice and friendly drivers and co-travellers. People usually introduce each other and start chatting away. Well, you are not obliged to and at some point people will want to get some rest. This kind of arrangement is also safe, since the websites save your personal data, contacts and completed by ratings and testimonials from real users. But in life as we know it, there are unfriendly and bad people too, therefore communicating before travelling is important. You should also book only drivers who fit to your preferences (smoking/no smoking, female-to-female drive, etc.) for your own convenience.
An apartment with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen/dinning room/living room and a bathroom with bath up was something I prefered than a shoe box dorm room with one kitchen that is shared with 9 or 14 other people. The apartment is only a 10 minutes-bike-ride to the campus and very close to a well-frequented-metro station, supermarkets, bakeries, bistros, pharmacies, and a street full of doctors practice. The rent for this apartment is great — only, I was a student and I couldn’t afford the money, so I shared it with two other students. This way I got to live like I was home and not merely just “away for college” with a budget friendly lease. The catch is only sometimes you couldn’t know what kind of people you really live with until you actually live with them, even live together with friends can jeopardize your friendship. However, when you start this so-called Wohngemeinschaft a.k.a WG, you can hold an audition and pick your own roommates or when someone is leaving, you are also got to cast the new member of the house.
Stadtcar literally means “city car”, it’s a concept of people contributing monthly membership fee in order for them to be able to rent a car cheaply. The rental cost is calculated on the kilometers and you don’t have to ay for the gas, they provide you a card to pay at the gas stations nationwide. When I often had to go with a car (normally I ride bike or take the metro), I always took the Stadtcar and it felt like I actually own a car without having to pay high taxes and maintenance fees for a car, which are very expensive in Germany.
You can find barter announcements everywhere, stuck to traffic lights on the streets, on whiteboards at campuses, supermarkets and also online. There are Facebook groups dedicated as barter platforms in many cities, even some cities’ official websites have a page to host barter offers. Once, I’ve got a very nice sofa bed from a stranger and all he wanted in return was a six-pack beers.
Sometimes people just give stuff for free because they move far away or aboard and they are just happy when someone takes their furnitures over and take care of them.
So far, those are examples on how to save money in Germany. I will update this article with more info in the future.